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Unexpected Charges for Driving Under the Influence of Drugs

Driving under the influence (DUI) is a serious charge in Pennsylvania. Many a person has been somewhat surprised to face DUI charges after being stopped driving home from a restaurant or bar. One drink too many is all it takes. However, the rules governing controlled substances and the operation of motor vehicles are even harsher. Coupled with the fact that many drugs can remain detectable in your system for weeks after consumption, this can lead to serious and unexpected charges for certain drug users.

In most DUI cases involving alcohol, a person is charged because the concentration of alcohol in his or her system is above a certain level. In the case of controlled substances, however, a very small detectable amount is enough for charges to attach. What’s more, DUI charges involving a controlled substance automatically fall into the most severe category — the same as operating a motor vehicle with twice the legal limit of alcohol in your system. If convicted of a first offense of driving under the influence of a controlled substance, you face:

  • Between 72 hours and six months in jail
  • Between $1,000 and $5,000 in fines
  • A 12-month license suspension

This means that you can potentially be charged and convicted for driving under the influence days or even weeks after using a drug like marijuana that remains in your system for an extended period. Fortunately, even at this level of severity, Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) is usually still available for first-time offenders. Successfully completing this program allows you to avoid jail time and a record, although there is still a 60-day minimum license suspension. An experienced Reading DUI defense attorney can help you successfully navigate the ARD program and avoid the harsher consequences of a DUI conviction.

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